Wednesday, February 28, 2018

That's Avant. Not Ava.

From 2013, please enjoy irrepressible Australian pop tart Courtney Barnett and her hilarious ode to respiratory trouble "Avant Gardener."

Seriously, I think this song is a freaking riot, and I'm really sorry I'm late to the party. By which I mean that friends of mine had told me this gal was cool several years ago but until I heard this song yesterday in a bar I hadn't really bothered to investigate her.

In any event, what I really want to know now is whether the scorekeeper in the video -- who looks like Cate Blanchett doing the 1966 Bob Dylan -- is actually Ms. Barnett herself.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Closed for Monkey Business

Plumbing problems here at the home of a certain Shady Dame, so no posting today.

Okay, that's the lamest excuse I've ever offered, but in any case regular stuff resumes on the morrow when I'm back at Casa Simels.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Waiting for iTunes

From (originally) 1976, and the just-released 2018 best-of compilation -- Crimes Against Humanity -- by my long-time garage band chums The Weasels, please enjoy our little Firesign Theater-esque promo for one of our earlier low-fi efforts -- the aptly named "This Album Sells Itself."

"Hermie -- he died for The Weasels new album. You will too."

BTW, you can get the album at Amazon, Pandora, Spotify and CD Baby, but those rat bastards at Apple Music haven't posted it yet. I'll get back to you when they do.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

Forget "Last Train to Clarksville" -- THIS is the greatest song Boyce and Hart ever wrote.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

[h/t Frank Burrows]

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Extended Metaphors For Our Time

From 2018, please enjoy Friend of PowerPop and all around very droll fellow Steve Notis as weighs in on a subject that has plagued us all at some point.

Obviously, this has taken on increased relevance in the dawning era of the driverless car.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Saw the incomparable Willie Nile last Saturday night...

...playing at a club in my hometown of Teaneck N.J....

...that is literally a block away from the apartment where I spent the first 23 years of my life.

Willie and his great band were characteristically transplendent on Saturday (they did an absolutely killer version of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream") but the high point for me was a kick-ass version of "Vagabond Moon," the opening track of his very first album. I didn't have the presence of mind to record it, but here's what it sounded like back in 1980 with his original ensemble.

And in case you're wondering what I wore to the gig....

Incidentally, the club has been renamed The Debonair Music Hall since that photo was taken a year or two ago, but it's still a terrific place to hear music and if you're in the neighborhood some evening I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

This is Your Democracy, America. Cherish it.

Jay Semko -- "Mouse in a Hole" (1995).

There's a mouse in a hole
And he's digging his own grave
There's a child with her mother
Teaching her how to behave
There's her brother in the classroom
And he really doesn't give a damn

There's his buddy his name is Alfonse
Who's been worshipping the Son of Sam
There's the teacher with a ruler
And he's bored with all the people in his life
There's the principal in a daydream
He's in love with his best friends wife
There's the best friend - he's on a bender
And his business is going downhill
There's the waitress who thinks he's wealthy
She's moving in for the kill

Then a policeman looks in the window
And he's jealous becoming quite upset
There's the radio in the police car
Predicting crimes that haven't happened yet
There's his partner who's looking forward
To the rock he's gonna smoke tonight
There's his girlfriend who he lives with
And she knows that something ain't right

Something ain't right

There's a tourist with a camera
Eating French fries and a big shake
There's the mother with her children
Teaching them their newest mistake
Then there's Alfonse works at the counter
For this leading hamburger chain
There's the teacher with the principal
And his best friend running in out of the rain
In comes the waitress with the policeman
He's off duty feelin' pretty good
And there's his partner who tried to get straight
With his girlfriend who did all that she could

Then there's this other guy
With a machine gun
In a parking lot
Dreaming about hell
'Cause he knows that
He's gonna go there
When he uses his last shell
He slams the car door - then he walks up
To the front door of the restaurant with a smile

Then he drops dead
On the pavement
Never dreaming
All the while
That there's a mouse in a hole
And he's digging his own grave

And there's a father - with a son
Teaching him how to behave

Something ain't right

There's a mouse in a hole
And he's digging his own grave...

You know, I could be wrong, but this just might be a metaphor for some of the current events of the last week.

I should add that I was originally gonna post The Guess Who's "Guns Guns Guns" or Kinky Friedman's "The Ballad of Charles Whitman." But then I thought -- nah, too obvious.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Just Like Pagliacci Did

And speaking as we were yesterday of Live From Daryl's Place, from 2011 please enjoy the charming host and special guest Smokey Robinson and an utterly astounding performance of Smokey's classic "Tears of a Clown."

And now I have a confession.

If you had told me in the 80s that 30 years later I'd be a total Daryl Hall fan, I would have said you were high.

Seriously -- I didn't dislike Hall and Oates, but they just weren't my cup of tea (I used to joke that Michael Bolton was the kind of singer that made you really appreciate Daryl Hall, which was not meant as a compliment).

But for whatever reason, I now think they're the bees fucking knees. Their hits hold up vastly better than most artifacts of their era, for starters. And the video -- sadly out of print -- of them live at the Apollo with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations is one of the greatest in concert things ever filmed by anybody. (I had a VHS tape of it digitized -- if you want one, be nice to me and I'll dupe you a DVD).

In any event, a certain Shady Dame and I have tickets to see H&O later this year, and I plan to enjoy every minute of the show. Have I mentioned that if you had told me that 30 years ago I would have said that you were high?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mister, You're a Better Man Than I

From 2012, and an episode of Live From Daryl's House, please enjoy the charming host and the great Nick Lowe in a quite gorgeous performance of Nick's greatest hit.

Pretty remarkable (and apparently the rest of the show isn't archived for some reason, which is too bad.)

In any event, has anybody else noticed that as Nick has aged he's started to look more and more like one of those expat 30s actors who showed up in Hollywood epics about the British in India? Seriously -- I can easily imagine him hanging out with the likes of C. Aubrey Smith.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If You Would Be My Beyotch!!!

From 2016, please enjoy "Alpha Dog" -- the b-side of the single from the Greatest Hits album I just compiled for my long-time (I've known these guys since high school) garage band The Weasels.

And I have to say -- bad taste notwithstanding, this one just cracks me up.

I mean seriously. There's not a joke in this lyric that doesn't kill me. And the piano solo (by our fabulous multi-instrumentalist Glenn Leeds) at the end is glorious.

I should add that the incomparable vocal is by bassist Allan Weissman, who co-wrote it along with the aforementioned Mr. Leeds and David Hawxwell. All of whom are going to Hell for having penned it.

I should also add that you can (and should) download or stream the entire album over at Amazon, CD Baby and Spotify. And (hopefully by tomorrow) iTunes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Slacker Tuesday

I just HAD to share this, which is without doubt the greatest typo of all time.

Come to think of it, that might have been the inspiration for this.

In any case, regular posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, February 12, 2018

For Andy -- With Love and Squalor

So as long time readers are aware, back in the early 80s I toiled in a 12-string pop band called The Floor Models. And also that Andy Pasternack, one of our principal songwriters (and our Rickenbacker ace), passed away unexpectedly in 2013. (That's Andy, second from left in the photo).

As you may also recall, last summer the surviving members of the Flo Mos went into the studio to recreate a song of Andy's that we all loved, and which we used to perform live for ages, but for some reason had never demoed. You can read the whole saga, and listen to the finished song, over HERE, but the shorter version is that it turned out so well that we planned to include it on a forthcoming EP of previously unreleased studio material in Andy's honor.

A few weeks after we finished the track, however, Gerry Devine -- our singer and the Flo Mos other principal songwriter -- let it drop casually that there was an Andy song that I had never suspected existed. One that was the last thing he wrote as a member of the band (and probably one of the last things he wrote ever) and that the band had never worked it up back in the day (I was no longer a member then, in case you're wondering).

Naturally, I found this (shall we say) intriguing, and Gerry graciously agreed to record an acoustic guitar and vocals version of it for my perusal.

When I listened to it a few weeks later I was totally gobsmacked. In fact, I thought it was one of the most heartbreakingly sad and beautiful songs I had ever heard; fortunately, Glen "Bob" Allen, our ace drummer, concurred, and so back into the studio we went.

And now, please enjoy the world public premiere of Andy's utterly gorgeous "Sarah McLeod."

That's essentially 95 percent finished, if truth be told; we'll probably have Gerry re-record his lead vocal for clarity, but damn, if that doesn't sound wonderful even at this point.

I should add that the background vocals and rhythm guitar are by special guest Flo Mo Joe Benoit, who showed up at the studio and nailed all his parts in about a half hour. The fabulous Telecaster licks and the Andy-esque 12-string, of course, are by our long-time regular guitar hero J.D. Goldberg (who came in for Andy in the late 80s).

If truth be told, I'm finding it difficult to believe we did anything quite this lovely, actually. But I think Andy would have approved. And it now looks like the planned EP is going to turn into a genuine album, one that with luck will be ready for public consumption some time before the end of the year.

Friday, February 09, 2018

It's Carole King Week Part V: Special Saving the Best For Last Edition

From 1963, please enjoy The Chiffons -- with the song's composer, Carole King, playing the fabulous piano part -- and "One Fine Day."

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- there are days when I think that's the greatest pop song of all time.

Of course, I've always regretted that no version of it exists in legit stereo. But the other day, what to my wondering eyes should appear on YouTube but the next best thing -- an extremely well done stereo version overdubbed quite cleverly after the fact by a musician/fan.

Okay, granted it's a bit like colorizing and old black-and-white movie, but darned if this one doesn't work. In any event, if you're a purist, the original still exists, obviously.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

It's Carole King Week Part IV: Special The Apple Don't Fall Too Far From the Tree Edition

From 1979, please enjoy the irrepressible Louise Goffin -- daughter of you know who -- and a sprightly cover of the Fabs' "All I've Got To Do."

Goffin's debut album is, to put it charitably, hardly the greatest artifact of its era, but at the time it came out, I remember thinking that it was kind of neat that Carole King had a daughter who was a bit of a punkette.

Listening to her take on the Beatles song for the first time in ages, however, has been a bit of a revelation. For starters, I had forgotten just how eerily Louise sounds like her mom. And I suddenly remembered that Lennon and McCartney famously said that when they were starting out, they were striving to be the next Goffin and King.

On the basis of "All I've Got to Do," you'd have to say they succeeded.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

It's Carole King Week Part III: Special All Men Are Liars Edition

From 1964, please enjoy Carole King's spine-tingling original solo demo of "Oh No Not My Baby."

This is a ragingly beautiful song, obviously, and it's been covered a lot, including a fabulous 70s hit version (In the UK) by Rod Stewart (before he became an asshole) and Faces. The American hit, of course, was by the great Maxine Brown.

In any event, the composer's version -- which I had not heard until yesterday -- brings tears to my eyes.

Have I mentioned that she's a fricking fantastic piano player?

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

It's Carole King Week Part II: Special Hello, Ladies! Edition

From the Letterman show in 1992, please enjoy Carole King on piano (in one of the most amazing all-star bands of all time) and a mind-boggling performance of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."

I should add that King is one of my all-time favorite rock keyboard people ever, apart from being an astounding songwriter. She's having a hell of a good time in that clip too, isn't she?

BTW -- that's Chrissie Hynde on rhythm guitar in the back. And the vocal section is Mavis Staples, Michelle Shocked, Roseanne Cash, Nanci Griffiths and Emmylou Harris.

Words fail me.

Monday, February 05, 2018

It's Carole King Week Part I: Special You Know, I Really Should Go See This Show Already Edition

From 2017, please enjoy a very nice mash-up of performances of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" by the auteur herself and various cast members of Beautiful from around the world.

The Japanese gal just slays me, BTW.

Tomorrow: King as piano player in one of the most amazing all star bands ever.

Friday, February 02, 2018

There Were Giants in the Earth in Those Days

So last week, I was discussing Rockpile with a musician friend (who had just bought their Seconds of Pleasure album on vinyl, ironically enough)...

...and a few days later, coincidentally, a long-time reader sent me this clip of Nick, Dave and the other guys on Swedish TV in 1978. Which I had not previously seen.

"So It Goes," of course, is from Pure Pop for Now People (aka Jesus of Cool), Nick's debut solo album from two years earlier. The version above is slightly, as they say, pitchy, but Rockpile was pretty much the best traditional rock band in the world at that point, and it's a snazzy performance anyway. Also, I want Nick's jacket.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

[h/t Matt Mitchell]

Thursday, February 01, 2018

An Old Piano and a Knockout Bass

From 1954, and the short lived tv series Show Time at the Apollo, please enjoy the incomparable Amos Milburn and his epochal boogie woogie masterpiece "Down the Road Apiece."

And that my friends, the Rolling Stones notwithstanding, is how it's done.

Incidentally, Milburn made a lot of records as good as that one, including an astounding remake of his first hit, "Chicken Shack Boogie," backed at an alarmingly fast pace by Little Richard's band. I'll see if I can find that and post it at some point.

I should add that before Milburn's untimely death at the age of 52, he suffered circulatory problems that necessitated having one leg amputated, something written about quite movingly in Nick Tosches' invaluable Unsung Heroes of Rock ''n Roll, one of the best books about the music ever.